What is 55-70 million years old and been on display in Disneyland since 1957? If you guessed a 10-foot petrified tree stump, you’d be right. Find out all about it.
About the petrified tree
The petrified tree in Disneyland’s Frontierland is believed to have been the base or stump of a 200 foot high redwood/sequoia that grew in what is now Colorado. It’s also thought that this tree must have been about 500-700 years old when some cataclysmic event occurred. The official plaque (pictured further down) provides more detail.
There seem to be two different stories floating around of how this petrified tree found its way to a prominent spot in Disneyland right next to the Rivers of America in Frontierland. The first story is the more common one, and the second is a little less known.
How the petrified tree got to Disneyland – Version 1
The most common background story is that Walt and Lilian Disney were driving around Colorado in 1956 and visited Pikes Peak. Walt happened to catch sight of a sign that said, Petrified Trees for Sale. He asked Lilian to stay in the car, while he stepped into the store. After negotiating with the private store owner for a sales price of $1,650 – he happily proclaimed to Lilian that he had just bought her a 31st Wedding Anniversary gift – a 5 ton petrified tree stump. It was shipped to their home, but Lilian said it was “too large for the mantle,” and please bring it to Disneyland.
How the petrified tree got to Disneyland – Version 2
Version 2 starts out somewhat similar to Version 1, except that the petrified tree stump was never shipped to the Disney home and never intended to be an anniversary gift to Lilian. Instead it was purchased to be used in the opening of a new Mineral Hall shop in Frontierland. Mineral Hall no longer exists (1956-1963) but was located roughly where Rancho del Zocalo is today. That new store was designed to showcase and sell rare minerals and rocks, and the petrified tree stump would be perfect for it.
Another minor variation is that Walt liked to install various surprises around the park that guests would encounter on their way to a different land or a different event. They would be minor attractions in between major attractions or “interstitials.”
The official plaque
There are two other distinctive trees in Disneyland. You can learn about the Dominguez Palm, which has been at Disneyland the *longest.* Or you can click this link for the Mugo Pine, which is the *oldest* living tree in Disneyland.